June 19, 2005

Are Psychiatrists Over-Medicating Kids?

Many people wonder if psychiatrists are always correct in their diagnosis of childhood mental disorders. Advocates cite the fact that childhood is a difficult time of adjustment and that many of the disorders that have been diagnosed in children are actually just a result of normal childhood/teenage angst. Not that they believe that all childhood disorders are phony, rather that children at large are over-diagnosed and therefore over-medicated. Proper diagnosis and proper monitoring is required when anyone is seeing a psychiatrist, but especially for children because of the potentially harmful long-term affects that it could have on them.

Part of the problem could just be the fact that there are not many psychiatrists that specialize in children. "Using a single-payer form of health insurance, relying on a team approach for treatment, forgiving a portion of medical school loans to encourage students to specialize in child psychiatry and increase the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists, and a variety of other steps would go a long way toward addressing patients' problems with antidepressants and aiding their recovery" (Foskett & Whearley, 2005).

Some of those advocating a more careful diagnosis for children are saying that psychiatrists do not fully explain how hard the side effects could be on their children. One of such advocates is "Judge Erskine [who] aims her wrath at many of the medications given to children and teenagers diagnosed with mental illness. She has become an outspoken critic of the treatment young people receive. In her view, too many children become victims of psychiatrists who are too quick to diagnose, and too quick to prescribe powerful anti-psychotic drugs without making the patients and their parents fully aware of potentially severe side effects. The result, she is convinced, amounts to the 'medicalization of childhood behavior'" (Foskett & Whearley, 2005). Side effects are such a common part of taking medication that many people do not spend ample time thinking about them, or weighing the risks. But many of the anti-depressants and anti-psychotics drugs prescribed can give side effects that may be harder for children and teens to deal with.

But the positive affects of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics should not be undermined. Many people are able to live relatively normal lives simply because they are on these medications. What is most important is that we are not so quick to diagnosis people, especially kids.

For more news articles on Childhood Bipolar Disorder go to: http://tinyurl.com/dho68

The source of this article is the Telegram & Gazetter from Massachusetts.


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